Antiques dealer Liam Dumar isn’t fond of carrying out his next job for Mina Carpathia Antiques. He squirms at the thought of retrieving a valuable painting from the foreboding Hyde Manor atop Mount Castelul. The manor has quite reputation of cult activity and blood-drinking, and rumor has it bodies are buried beneath its floors.
Liam’s trepidations disappear when he meets the sexy caretaker of the manor, Henrich Von Shelly. Following an introduction and short tour of the manor, Liam is taken to a private room where he will spend the night. In the morning he will obtain the famous painting and leave.
During his stay, strange things begin to happen. A horrifying scream awakens him in the middle of night. When he goes in search of the sound, he discovers a secret passageway and bizarre room where Lord Harkford Mason Hyde, owner of the manor, carries out questionable actions with handsome men.
Liam’s visit turns shorter than expected. But when he attempts to leave, he’s confronted by Lord Hyde. Will Liam live another day to tell his vampire tale of Hyde Manor, or die like the many men before him?
The Great Hall loomed around me. Candlelight filled the area, dim and gleaming. Weaving, steep, and mahogany staircases rose to the left and right, in front of me. A twenty-four foot high marble statue of a seated Ludovisi Ares was positioned straight ahead of me. Behind the seated statue was a floor-to-ceiling stained-glass window of various hues. The statue sat next to his knee-high shield and held a sword in his right hand. Lord Hyde’s immensely-sized and famous oil on canvas (probably replicas) decorated the walls. Such massive paintings included Naked Randolph by Lake, Nude George II Eating Apple, Bathing Men, Sleeping Stefan, and three others. Like the statue, the floor was white marble, shining in the dull light. Closed and titanic-size doors to my left and right on the first floor led to other areas of the massive manor.
“Von Shelly,” the caretaker of the manor shared with me, shaking my hand. His handsome and eager smile filled his chiseled and warm looking face. There was nothing vulgar regarding the man’s features. A pure beauty if there ever was one. Herculean. Zeus-like. Bulky with such handsome looks. A prize to my eyes. So good looking. Charming.
“A pleasure to meet you, sir. Thank you for having me.”
“You must be chilled to your core,” he told me, taking my single piece of luggage. Our hands brushed in doing so, but only briefly. A shiver moved through my hand: momentarily noticed, hot, appealing, needed. Something I desired more of, feeling a questionable connection to the man almost immediately, but unable to put a finger on, of course. Perhaps it was the handsomeness of chemistry at work between adult men.
“Yes. It’s very cold outside.”
I caught him staring at me. Perhaps he found me attractive, drawn to my good looks? Maybe? A possibility? Being caught, he turned his view away from me rather quickly, perchance embarrassed. He looked at the marble floor and confessed, “I’m so sorry to gaze upon your handsomeness, sir. But you are the finest man to look at. They don’t come by here such as you. Not these days, of course.”
He spoke strangely, of a different time and place, hardly new-century America, but I didn’t mind. Truth said, I rather enjoyed his strange lingo, and thought it attractive. “No worries, Mr. Von Shelly. Thank you for your compliment.”
More truth said, when he lifted his head from his state of humiliation, I couldn’t help myself and studied more of his features: his mop of black hair and bright blue eyes; his shoulders like a Spartan’s; his waste tapered to a V-shape. Lord Harkford Mason Hyde’s assistant, the caretaker of the manor, stood at six foot tall, rather colossal, athletically built with a cut jaw, and delicious looking dimples. Muscular came to mind, jockish too, and overtly good looking; details that I usually sniffed out in a man, relished, dated, and, nonetheless, sometimes fell for.
How interesting ... Interesting.
He offered me food, something light to fill my belly, but I politely declined. “I’m far too cold, Mr. Von Shelly. I’d rather have warmth than calories, if you don’t mind.”
“Indeed ... yes ... of course. I understand,” he told me, and led me into an adjoining room, to our left, leaving my single piece of luggage behind.
Strangely, I trusted him and followed him into an obvious sitting room with many chairs and baroque-styled sofas. The room stretched high and round. Burgundy curtains layered in gold accents hung over the large windows. The marble floor glinted a golden-yellow hue and flecks of white marble. Flickering in the distance sat a churning fire in the largest hearth I had ever seen; something that could hold a half dozen or more men, shoulder-to-shoulder.
I stepped up to the fire to warm my bones. Heat hit me almost immediately. I found it soothing like a man’s hands and lips. Comfort and joy. Hot breath. Kissing me.
Behind me, over my right shoulder, I caught Von Shelly checking out my masculine frame. Did he like what he saw? I imagined so, because he quickly steered his view away from my bottom and asked, “Would you care for a warm bourbon, sir? Something to soothe your soul this evening?”
“I’m fine. No thank you.”
“Very well. I understand. If you don’t mind, I will take your bag to your room and recover you in a moment or two. If you change your mind in the meantime about the bourbon, there’s a cart to your right near one of the chairs. Please, help yourself. I shall return in no time. Please, make yourself at home ... comfortable.”
My helpful and attractive friend had vanished. There one second. Gone the next. Simply no longer present, and leaving me alone. Thereafter, I was left to my own devices.